The Buccaneer Chronicles:
City of Gold
By Tony Gallichan (despite interference by Keith Dunn and Adam J Purcell)
Part One - Your shadow falls on me revealing a silhouette reality.
Chapter One - Interstitial Conflict
Now, you see, it may have been mentioned before, but the Space - Time Vortex is a wondrous place. Lozenges of interstitial light blend seamlessly in with the diamond flames of the Time Winds, which in turn blend in perfectly with the butterfly colours of the very fabric of the Vortex itself. You'd think that nothing could live in this deadly environment, but some do. Creatures of such raw power that they eat time itself. Normally they just exist but occasionally something will wake them.
Like now, for example. A small white sphere, spinning it's way through the Vortex, the butterfly patterns being reflected off it in ways that would drive a man insane. Those who lived in the Vortex were certainly watching this one. He was important in ways that he couldn't even start to comprehend - well, not yet, anyway.
Inside the TARDIS it was, for once, peaceful.
In other words, Macfadyan was asleep.
It didn't appear to be a very peaceful sleep, though. If Blanche or Cre'at had dared to look in on the Time Lord, they would have seen him twitching and turning. Dark mutterings would come from him and more than once the corridors of the ship had echoed to a hoarse shout.
It was about that time that Blanche had decided to wear earmuffs.
So. Relatively peaceful, then.
Cre'at was compiling a small monograph for presentation to his fellow scientists on Sottos next time he returned home. It was his observations and thoughts on the Triangle War. They had only just returned from that other universe and the conflict had certainly taken its toll on them. Strange energies had been released towards the end of that conflict, energies that had affected Macfadyan quite strongly, not that he would admit it. He had returned to the TARDIS looking tired and somehow older. It was nothing you could put your finger on, but he seemed... weary. After making sure that the ship was safely through the dimensional rift he had marched off to his bedroom and had been there for two days.
So Cre'at had started putting into order his notes on the Triangle. This had proved to be slightly more difficult than he had thought it would be due to the fact that some of the energy readings he had gathered on his mission to one of the rifts were, to be honest, not possible. And as for the energy signature...
It was hunting. It knew it's prey, It had been told who and where. THEY had made sure that it couldn't feel the fear that others would in its place.
There! Flashing through the peaks and troughs of the Vortex. There!
It powered itself to full and altered its time track. It started to predict the sphere's course and started to move ahead of it.
Blanche had long ago learnt that Macfadyan hated her going anywhere near the console. However, she had also long ago learnt that when the console started to make a loud 'Pinging' sound and a bright red light started to flash on one of the panels that things were going to get noisy and nasty.
"MACFADYAAAAAAAAAANNN!" she shouted.
* There is a problem, Blanche? * Cre'at had floated into the room, looking for a small crystal chip.
"Look, Mr. Balloon, that's not right, innit?" she pointed at the console.
* Not "Balloon", Sot'm, Blanche. * Cre'at didn't see the wicked grin Blanche was giving him. * This is interesting. I do not believe that I have ever witnessed that warning signal and that pattern of display lights before. I am intrigued. *
"And so you should be, you nosey Sot'm, you." Said Macfadyan from the archway that led to the rest of the ship. He walked over to the console, literally shoving Blanche aside.
"Oi, git face! Watch it!"
"Shut up!" came the curt reply. "I think we may be in trouble."
As if to emphasise his words, the sound of an ancient bell, deep and sonorous, started to sound, drifting through the internal arch, yet seeming to be in the room with them.
* I believe that the word, Bugger, is what you are looking for, Macfadyan *
Macfadyan shot the Sot'm a look.
Close, so close. Nearly there. Nearly then. Nearly... nothing...
And eyes watched all this and found it... exciting!
"Something is on the same time track as ourselves. It's trying to get ahead of us, to materialise where we will materialise. And we all know what that means, don't we?"
Two faces looked blankly at him.
* Bang? *
* Explain, Macfadyan. Are we in danger? That is the warning signal tolling. Are we in danger? Are we? *
"It's called Time Ram. It's when the molecules of one object try to take up the same space as the molecules of another object. The results are ALWAYS DEVASTATING!" he ended with a shout as the TARDIS gave a very unsteady lurch. The floor settled back down to almost normal, except it didn't feel solid. It was like standing on the deck of a ship in a force nine gale.
"And if this happens to two TARDISes, well, you can imagine the result. Hang on, I'll try to loose them." His hands were a blur over the console. Switches were flicked, buttons pressed and the occasionally, a panel was thumped. The TARDIS started to protest. The electronic bleeping that was a gentle melody to the hum of the engines started to distort and become louder.
"Another TARDIS? How do you know?" asked Blanche as she struggled to cling on to the console. Above them, Cre'at stayed stationary as the room shook and swayed beneath him.
"Only thing it could be. Though these readings don't make much sense. The ship's telepathic circuits have been trying to make contact with the other TARDIS. No joy, I'm afraid. Apparently the other craft only posses a rudimentary telepathic ability and there doesn't appear to be an actual intelligence for the old girl to communicate with. But the physical readings are of a TARDIS. Hang on! Here it comes again..."
The TARDIS gave another great lurch and Blanche was sent rolling into the fern bushes, getting wet as she tumbled through the stream. She ended up on her back looking at one of the sets of black candles that had started to appear in the console room. Typical of Macfadyan, she thought dazedly. He decides to put in something nice like candles and then makes them all black and gothic. She decided that staying on the floor was here best option at the moment.
It was called Omega. It was black as death and that's what it was. It had only the one purpose. Destruction. THEY had created it like the others. But instead of nurturing it, allowing it to grow and develop, they had removed its heart, it's centre. Removed? Killed, more like. It didn't care now. Didn't even consciously realise. As TARDISes went, it was retarded, unthinking and unfeeling.
And they had looked at it and smiled.
And the mouth behind the eyes began to smile.
"It's no good, I can't shake them. We're going to have to jump the time track." Macfadyan called.
He pulled the master power switch and fed in all the power he could from small levers arrayed around it.
The TARDIS screamed. Power flooded through her like never before. This was a dangerous operation at best but now...
'Now' was when the other ship caught up with them. Panels blew out on the console; the rotor jammed and, bizarrely, from somewhere came the sound of a boing-ing ruler, clearly audible over the top of all the mini explosions.
And throughout all this, the TARDIS screamed louder and louder.
Time Ram can do that to a ship...